Monday, December 04, 2006


I awoke to the sound of wind. At first I thought it was hail but it was only the velocity of the mighty breeze pounding against the windows. Storm debris was everywhere. I suppose we could have taken that as a sign, but we did not. After Morning Offering, Jim, Gary and I tried to ascertain the road conditions to our west, but had no luck. Things seemed calm enough, but all we could ascertain were temperatures.

I had a conference with Pam on bookkeeping work to be done while we are gone and then packed while Jim moved like the outside wind, securing details, seeing to last minute things and bailing me out when I hit the emotional skids as a floor lamp of considerable weight fell across my bent head as I tried to unplug the small printer. Hugs are wonderful things! The long lump which the lamp left stung all day but I believe my hard head escaped any real damage, except to my emotional equilibrium.

We bade a sad good-bye to our kitties after all was done to pack and ready for the trip and hit the road a bit after 11 AM. Fifty miles short of St. Louis, we drove past an incredible and memorable sight, one I will probably never see again. The area had been pounded by massive “thunder-sleet” storms and the glare ice must have lain thickly indeed on the tree limbs, for although the sun was shining brightly in a clear blue sky and we could see green grass at the roadside, every tiny detail of every tree and bush and even in spots the grass blades was limned in sparkling ice. The effect was eerie.

West of St. Louis, the ice on the trees had melted but we saw more and more snow. However we were driving easily until we left I-64W for I-70W at Wentzville, Missouri. That road had not been cleared and suddenly we were in trouble. It took us six hours to drive the remaining 80 miles to our destination in Columbia, Missouri. For over two hours, our forward progress was less than three miles. We were stopped by six accidents altogether; six times of stopping entirely. As we came to within three miles of the hotel, we were stopped for over an hour by a semi which had managed to array itself across an exit and the expressway as well when it skidded. There was something about being so close to our destination and yet so stuck that was especially unnerving.

A word about hubris – unreasoning arrogance and pride. We would see cars going past us, thinking they could drive faster than the icy, slushy, snowy and obviously treacherous road surface would allow. Then we would see them in the ditch on one side or another of the road, or, of course, across it, giving us saner and more patient drivers yet another chance to become one with the passing signs. I must have spent a half an hour in front of one billboard for Stone Mill Winery in Hermann, Missouri. I think I tasted that wine the advertisement’s lady was offering me! I recommend it! I became one with many beautiful objects: snow, guard rails, road signs and other marvels of our perfect and beautiful creation. And Jim and I gave thanks for Stanley Outback, whose surefooted grace got us through it all feeling cozy and warm.

One thing was of cardinal importance in terms of convenience: our massive luck in timing the trip so that I left after just having been oh-so-thoroughly cleaned out by the colonoscopy prep. I might have been uncomfortable during the hours of stop-and-slow travel, but I made it to the hotel, through all the waiting, without incident. Jim and I did have an emergency plan just in case but thank heaven we did not have to use it!

The sight of our hotel sign, at long last, was such a blessing! The power was on there – another incredible bit of luck. We cruised the parking lot for a place to park but the snow plows had not been able to clear much, as so many cars were already stranded and covered with snow before half of the 16 inches had fallen. The amount of snowfall had been grossly underestimated and many people got stranded when their cars got stuck while they were at work. We ended up parking by the hotel’s closed restaurant and no one even suggested we move the car. There was no place to move it TO, anyway.

The bliss of simple warmth and a place to relax was ineffable! We checked in, ate and went to bed, eventually, with the most heart-felt feeling of thanksgiving!